Taking Municipal Security to the Third Dimension (Security Technology Executive)


Using technologically advanced video surveillance cameras coupled with the use of intelligent real-time applications and team collaboration tools, the City of Hollister Police Department revolutionized the management, resource deployment, and information delivery to provide security for the 2015 Hollister Bike Rally.

Every July 4th weekend, the City that is referred to as the “Birthplace of the American Biker” plays host to tens of thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts from all over the country.  Rally attendance reports list that over 100,000 people converge into the city with a population of 38,000 over the three-day event.  The event footprint is 12 city blocks in the middle of downtown Hollister. 

The Rally attendee’s included; motorcycle clubs, bike enthusiasts, families, bike clubs, as well as city residents. The rally featured motorcycle riders flaunting their rides on the main drag, live music, beer gardens, food vendors, and was free to the public.

Unfortunately, the rally also brings a significant number of Outlaw Motorcycle Gang members to the event.  Every year, the Hollister Police Department must deal with the criminal element; known as the 1%ers.  Adding to the problem is the fact that the Hollister Police Department only has 28 sworn police officer positions.  In 2014, violence that started in the rally continued the next day at a gas station outside the event.   Two rival motorcycle clubs met and the end result was several people injured including three with gunshot wounds. 

The City of Hollister made safety a top priority for the event and worked behind the scenes to make the event safe for everyone.  The Hollister Police Department, had just installed over 60 intelligent video surveillance cameras in 2014, decided to add to the camera system in 2015, and combined location-based technology software along with a real-time team collaboration application to improve situational awareness in and around the downtown area of Hollister; resulting in a safe event this year for all attendees and law enforcement officials.

Active Viewing

During the Rally, there was almost 100% video coverage of the downtown area.  The effective camera placement in downtown Hollister is equivalent to placing a large police force on the street. The cameras provide the department with real-time crowd information from a “birds-eye perspective” and enhanced situational awareness.

With high definition camera technology, the three command centers for the event (Intel, Operations, and Dispatching) can see hundreds of high quality feeds to gain a real-time perspective of the crowd, which cuts down on the police force needed on the streets to gain the equivalent public safety results.

With public safety at stake, the Hollister Police Department implemented a location-based social media monitoring platform that automatically monitored, gathered and archived all public social media content in and around Downtown Hollister.  Armed with location-based intelligence the Police Department was able to monitor, engage and analyze social media feeds in real-time from the Rally. The Department started with the locations that matter most; such as the Beer Gardens and Outlaw Motorcycle Club gathering locations to increase situational awareness, reduce response time, and assist first responders.

Active Patrolling

The Hollister Police Department improved its situational awareness of the event by “listening” to geo-tagging social media posts to get an overall sense and tone of the event.  By incorporating location-based technology, they were able to map a location anywhere in Downtown Hollister and monitor real-time social content from multiple sources, with one click. This better equipped their deployed resources to focus and secure high traffic areas, better protect the public, identify wanted criminals and witnesses, as well as monitor any potential or ensuing unrest.

The monitoring paid off; law enforcement at the event now had a very large compilation of pictures and text postings from the various social media communities taken at the rally. The police were able to monitor the content for threats or malice.  By adding location-based intelligence the Hollister Police Department was able to track suspicious incidents on social media coming from the downtown area during the rally and were able to monitor and extinguish potential threats before they started.  The social media data set coupled with the video surveillance feeds allowed law enforcement officials to identify the area where the pictures were posted, deploy resources intelligently who were equipped with real-time information, such as a picture or video clip, social media profile of the person of interest.

Force Multiplier

In addition to the location-based social media monitoring platform and technologically advanced video surveillance cameras the Hollister Police Department deployed a real-time web-based command and control software application that facilitated team collaboration and shared situational awareness to groups of mobilized officers and first responders deployed in and around the Rally.

The police department contracts with other law enforcement agencies throughout the region for additional personnel to patrol on foot the entire event area.  These officers working the event are for the most part unfamiliar with the city.  There was a need to provide immediately available logistical, geographical and situational awareness to each team of officers patrolling the event. 

Very few police departments have “truly integrated” their policy and technology layers in a “Common Operating Picture” that brings together a unified command and control system and delivers real-time information to first responders as well as to their distributed command layer. The Hollister Police Department was able to deliver and share all information that was available to deployed officers at the Rally in an appropriate and important timeframe from all relevant sources.

All Law Enforcement resources had a real-time “Common Operating Picture” at the Rally, which facilitated faster, safer and more effective responses to all types of incidents. Command staff and dispatchers had real-time information on the location of the downtown foot patrol teams as they worked the event.  This information was crucial to deploying the closest team swiftly to a call and therefore reaching a favorable conclusion by averting the escalation of incidents. 

Through the use of the applications collaborative tools such as interactive whiteboarding, encrypted texting, file/picture/video sharing, the Hollister Police Department was able to analyze, share and then to create an accurate representation of the many localized events within the Rally and look for “the unexpected”, which is a valuable tool for law enforcement officials.

Officers were trained on the cameras and the technology platforms.  The monitors were manned during the event to make sure that there were no disturbances during the rally. All the technology deployed for the Rally is a long-term valuable cost-effective investment that allows the Hollister Police Department to go back in time and will assist detectives in solving crimes, incidents, and accidents. The police monitored the cameras, and social media feed during the Hollister Bike Rally as a preventative measure.

The cross-platform application also seamlessly integrated many different client interfaces out in the field such as PCs, tablets, and handheld mobile devices and patrol cruisers.

Conclusion

We live in a society that is social media involved, we receive information from a variety of uncontrolled sources such as, FaceBook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, etc… All of which are potential feeds to provide additional situational awareness and perspective. Incorporating these feeds, and the web-based real-time situational awareness command software and the departments’ technology footprint with best practices, policies, and procedures for public safety then integrating the layers into the day-to-day practices of Law Enforcement is the “Third Dimension” to a secure city.

A Technology Partnership

Budgets and needs are often at opposing ends of the financial spectrum. However, problems, many times, can be broken down into manageable pieces that can be solved if a long-term strategic view is taken. SurveillanceGrid Integration Inc. worked with the Hollister Police Department, the City of Hollister IT Director and City Officials to understand the complexity of managing and keeping a heterogeneous public event safe.  Long term and near term requirements were assessed to see what the manageable pieces of a solution would look like. Working with city stakeholders the current budget environment was anticipated which allowed the development of a workable plan. Together, we designed a system that not only met the requirements of the annual Biker Rally but also served as a template that will allow the city of Hollister’s Police Department to continue to integrate the latest technologies and applications.  The net result gave the Hollister Police Department and the City of Hollister a “Future Proof” solution and a verifiable return on their investment.